Three suspects are in custody in New Mexico after a police officer was shot dead during a traffic stop in the southern US state. The officer, named in local media as 33-year-old Jose Chavez, was killed in the village of Hatch on Friday afternoon, local time.
Three suspects fled the scene at high speed, before carjacking another vehicle at a rest stop, shooting and wounding its owner. They were caught after police pursuers deployed a tyre deflating device and blew out the car's wheels, causing it to crash, and forcing the suspects to surrender.
Chavez, who had been an officer in the Hatch Police Department for two years, was rushed to hospital but died following emergency surgery.
"Another Hatch officer had just arrived at the traffic stop to assist the first officer when a passenger from the vehicle exited and fired shots," the Doña Ana County sheriff's department said in a statement. One suspect is believed to have exited the car to shoot at Chavez.
The three suspects reportedly escaped at speeds exceeding 100mph, according to the sheriff's department. After about 25 minutes, having lost their pursuers, they attempted to steal a red Chevrolet Cruze SUV after shooting its owner. The owner is also now in hospital. Their actions prompted a massive response from several New Mexico law enforcement jurisdictions. They were arrested, and police say one of them sustained a gunshot wound to the right thigh.
Their fugitives' actions prompted a massive response from several New Mexico law enforcement jurisdictions. They were arrested. Police say one sustained a gunshot wound to the right thigh.
"Tonight, Officer Chavez is an officer of every department; we all feel the tremendous loss for his family and for our community," Kelly Jameson, a department spokeswoman said.
Gun violence both from and against police is an increasingly hot topic in the US. Protests have regularly erupted over the past few years after the country's black community has become increasingly angry at a series of what they say are racially motivated shootings of black suspects in custody.